Product Profile | LOCAL Table by Roundabout Studio

Community, family & sharing
This 13′ dining table is a place of community, family, and where we share. White Oak, Cherry, Black Walnut and Maple panels combine to create a subtle and varied composition.

These woods, indigenous to the area in which the table is made and sold, reflect both cultural and geographical contexts. This modern piece of furniture is meant to sit at the heart of that, rooted in place. The table is finished using a durable and natural penetrating oil that, when maintained properly, will last a lifetime. It even comes with a litre of refinishing oil to be applied as necessary.

About Roundabout Studio Inc. and LOCAL Furniture
Roundabout Studio Inc is a Toronto-based design company focused on creating custom houses. They have a diverse background ranging from carpentry, finance, sciences, animal care, and software development. Their projects have ranged from furniture to houses to master plans for 300,000 square foot buildings.

LOCAL Furniture is a natural extension specializing in furniture. Roundabout Studio applies the same design standards to this new division and the LOCAL table is officially the first product for sale to the public.

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Product Profile | XXXY Sugar Maple Table by Storyboard Furniture

Table For Tree
“Holmes on Homes”. “Bar Rescue”. “Pimp My Ride”. There’s always something fascinating about remodeling “junk” into something more appealing and useful. Storyboard Furniture’s XXXY Sugar Maple Table (new to ideacious!) is a perfect example, using “damaged” Toronto trees to sculpt furniture that’s primed to give cribs everywhere a sumptuous and naturalistic vibe!

Process
The XXXY Sugar Maple came to be after Storyboard Furniture received a slab from the Cohen and Master Tree and Shrub Service. Not much information was provided about the property it came from but that it came from a neighborhood near the shop.

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Typically, the raw material is sourced from felled trees donated by Toronto homeowners and/or arborists. The trees are brought to the appropriate mills and cut precisely and dried. The wood is then moved into Storyboard Furniture’s kiln where they are dried further and subsequently designed, flattened, sanded and finished with the utmost care. The criteria throughout the process is to try to imbue the character of the tree into the design of each table.

To this end, specific flitches are selected that best symbolize the tree’s character. City trees purportedly have “battle scars” or damage from exposure to various elements of the city.

 “Each tree does have its own story, and we aim to let them speak for themselves. We try to present them in a way that’s as unfiltered as possible. When you see a monolithic slab table you understand the presence of that tree in a way that’s not possible if you glue some sticks together. Our base designs are intended to respond to the shape, size, and various features of a particular slab in a way that facilitates a conversation between the piece of wood and the viewer. They are like shoes for a runway model,” Dennis Hale of Storyboard Furniture explains.

Toronto Trees under Threat
Toronto trees are often damaged and/or removed for several reasons. A city that is constantly growing requires more land to be developed, resulting in trees being cut or removed. That’s not all, however – changing seasons, harsh weather conditions and occasional accidents also factor in.

“Some tree species such as Ash and Elm trees are also at risk due to insects and diseases,” Dennis adds.

Toronto is home to over 10 million trees. About 4 million of these are publicly-owned including over 600,000 street trees located in the public sectors of the cities. About 3.5 million trees are located in parks, ravines and other natural areas (according to the official City of Toronto website).

About Storyboard Furniture
Storyboard Furniture is a small company composed of artists, Dennis and Mike. Their main goal is to salvage wood from local discarded trees, which are meaningful to people, to create beautiful art and furniture.

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They became acquainted with ideacious through our participation in the Apple Wood Salvage Initiative. We created several Apple Wood products which contributed to the fundraising effort that saved the apple orchard.

IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight | Heidi Earnshaw

This is the 6th in a series of 10 posts where we will be placing the spotlight on the amazing talent signed up for the IIDEX Woodshop initiative. This week: Heidi Earnshaw Design!

Heidi Earnshaw

Heidi Earnshaw Design is a studio founded by Heidi Earnshaw focused on designing and producing handcrafted wooden furniture and objects and fully-fitted spaces for private, public and corporate projects using carefully and responsibly made unique pieces.

We were fortunate to have Heidi offer some insight into IIDEX Woodshop, ash wood and some of her other interests.

ideacious: IIDEX Woodshop has a strong narrative going for it — a city and IIDEX supported initiative to use a portion of the 200,000+ ash trees the Emerald Ash Borer will bring down over the next 5 years. How do you plan to embrace this narrative through the work you submit?

Heidi Earnshaw: There is an amazing practicality to the narrative in  finding creative ways to transform the ash bore problem into a positive shared opportunity and experience for the design community, city foresters and Torontonians in general. In that same spirit,  I hope the design I submit will hold a wide appeal as a beautiful, useful and accessible object of everyday use. 

From an aesthetic perspective, many designers opt to work with rich woods like Walnut or Maple. What are your thoughts on using Ash as your primary material? Is it a challenge, does it change your process, or do you simply disagree and think Ash is amazing?

Wood types come and go in popularity.  In the 90’s cherry and maple were the favourites, now it is walnut that is most popular. As designers we need to encourage the use of wood that is responsibly harvested and grown in North America. All woods have historical uses based on their particular characteristics.  Ash, known for it’s straight, reliable grain and excellent strength to weight ratio is commonly used in sports equipment, tools handles, oars etc.  This exhibition will hopefully remind us that all wood is good, it is simply a matter of using it appropriately and highlighting the best characteristics both functionally and aesthetically.  

And finally, what’s something that you’re really into right now?

Antiques.  I can spend hours roaming around country flea markets.  They are like museums of material culture that I find endlessly inspiring.

Stay tuned for a new designer next week!

IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight | 608|Design

This is the 4th in a series of 10 posts where we will be placing the spotlight on the amazing talent signed up for the IIDEX Woodshop initiative. This week: the 608|Design

608|Design is a design studio operated by Evan Bare since 2007, which designs and engineers soft seating products for residential, contract and healthcare manufacturers with a focus on “fusing geometry, utility, craft and technology.”

We had the pleasure of having Evan answer a few of our questions—here is what he had to say about the IIDEX Woodshop competition, ash wood and dubstep!

ideacious: IIDEX Woodshop has a strong narrative going for it — a city and IIDEX supported initiative to use a portion of the 200,000+ ash trees the Emerald Ash Borer will bring down over the next 5 years. How do you plan to embrace this narrative through the work you submit?

Evan Bare: I want to compose a piece with layered structural elements while emphasizing the linear grain pattern found in Ash.

From an aesthetic perspective, many designers opt to work with rich woods like Walnut or Maple. What are your thoughts on using Ash as your primary material? Is it a challenge, does it change your process, or do you simply disagree and think Ash is amazing?

I actually really like the grain structure of Ash, especially quarter sawn and have used it in some furniture pieces.  It’s a strong solid wood but does have some issues with fracture along the grain lines which does cause problems for certain designs.

And finally, what’s something that you’re really into right now?

I’m really into growing vegetables and listening to Dubstep. Design wise, I’m a big fan of anything made by Patricia Urquiola.

Stay tuned for our next IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight: Paus + Grün!

IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight | the National Design Collective

This is the 3rd in a series of 10 posts where we will be placing the spotlight on the amazing talent signed up for the IIDEX Woodshop initiative. This week: the National Design Collective.

The National Design Collective (NDC), currently comprised of Scott Bodaly and Heather Lam, was established in 2009. They specialize in creating custom furniture, interior, graphic, and product design, with a heavy emphasis on creating objects/experiences through narratives and experimentation.

Scott & Heather interviewed with us briefly and here is what they had to say on the subjects of Ash, local breweries, motorcycles and (ofcourse!) IIDEX Woodshop:

ideacious: IIDEX Woodshop has a strong narrative going for it — a city and IIDEX supported initiative to use a portion of the 200,000+ ash trees the Emerald Ash Borer will bring down over the next 5 years. How do you plan to embrace this narrative through the work you submit?

theNDC: Normally materials such as these would be incinerated or go straight to the landfill.  What is great about this initiative is that it creates a unique opportunity to take what would be waste and turn it into something that can benefit our community.  The trees were once a part of the city of Toronto, so it would be nice to give something back to replace what the city has lost.  

From an aesthetic perspective, many designers opt to work with rich woods like Walnut or Maple. What are your thoughts on using Ash as your primary material? Is it a challenge, does it change your process, or do you simply disagree and think Ash is amazing?

We disagree! We have always liked the more local woods, which tend to be lighter in colour.  We have experimented with ash in the past, playing not only with its aesthetic, but also its capabilities.  It can be stained, bleached, lamination and steam bent, and has nice grain, strength, and weight.  Being a local wood, it is well suited to our climate and doesn’t require crazy toxic finishing.

There could even be an opportunity to introduce a Toronto or Canadian design aesthetic using ash.  For example, the Dutch created a strong design identity by using dark oiled woods and earth toned fabrics that is recognizable all over the world. Canada had a similar scene in the 60s and 70s that was very innovative and funky using new material processes (new to that time), such as complex plywood bending and advances in plastics manufacturing. With the Ash Borer creating a surplus of ash in the city, local designers can embrace the processes that are well suited to the material, potentially creating a definable aesthetic in the international design scene.

4 Cities Coasters by the National Design Collective

You’ve clearly established yourself as a force to be reckoned with in the Toronto design scene. What tips or advice would you give to other creators hoping to be a part of IIDEX Woodshop through the competition?

Don’t be afraid to experiment and never turn down an opportunity to learn something new.  Most importantly, do exactly what makes you happy, have fun, and support your local breweries while designing!

And finally, what’s something that you’re really into right now?

A band from Ottawa called A Tribe Called Red, they’ve got a unique powwow-step vibe that is great to work to in the shop.    

We’re also currently obsessed with motorcycles.  There’s something really honest and simple about a motorcycle which we appreciate and can learn a lot from.

Stay tuned for our next IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight: 608|Design!

IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight | Greenwood Studio

This is the 2nd in a series of 10 posts where we will be placing the spotlight on the amazing talent signed up for the IIDEX Woodshop initiative. This week: Greenwood Studio.

Greenwood Studio is a boutique design/build studio that creates contemporary custom furniture from salvaged and reclaimed materials as well as bespoke treehouses.

Here is what its founder, Michael Greenwood had to say when asked him about IIDEX Woodshop:

ideacious: IIDEX Woodshop has a strong narrative going for it — a city and IIDEX supported initiative to use a portion of the 200,000+ ash trees the Emerald Ash Borer will bring down over the next 5 years. How do you plan to embrace this narrative through the work you submit?

Michael Greenwood: My design will speak to the narrative — it will consider the death of the trees, their accumulation, and their rebirth.

From an aesthetic perspective, many designers opt to work with rich woods like Walnut or Maple. What are your thoughts on using Ash as your primary material? Is it a challenge, does it change your process, or do you simply disagree and think Ash is amazing?

Not my favourite. Not wild about the ‘yellowish’ tone it sometimes has. But it is hard and works well, takes stain well and the qualities of the wood won’t stifle the design.

You’ve clearly established yourself as a force to be reckoned with in the Toronto design scene. What tips or advice would you give to other creators hoping to be a part of IIDEX Woodshop through the competition?

Think like an Ash tree.

And finally, what’s something that you’re really into right now?

As always I’m into joinery, economy of material, sculpted forms and remembering that less design is more.

Stay tuned for our next IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight: the National Design Collective!

IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight | urbanproduct

This is the 1st in a series of 10 posts where we will be placing the spotlight on the amazing talent signed up for the IIDEX Woodshop initiative. This week: urbanproduct.

urbanproduct was founded in 2009 by Scottish-born Stephen Lindsay. They focus on creating fun and functional handcrafted furniture and products with a strong environmental ethos. We dropped Stephen a line earlier this week to pick his brain with a few questions.

ideacious: IIDEX Woodshop has a strong narrative going for it — a city and IIDEX supported initiative to use a portion of the 200,000+ ash trees the Emerald Ash Borer will bring down over the next 5 years. How do you plan to embrace this narrative through the work you submit?

Stephen Lindsay: We plan to submit furniture items that show their raw form, their construction and source — to help tell the story of what they are and what they are made from. We’ve always enjoyed ‘honesty of construction’ so we don’t hide elements that are integral to the manufacture of our objects — but at the same time, we find a lot of people have a disconnect with the process and the techniques, not to mention the time and labour, involved in taking part of a tree, and making it part of our living spaces. Toronto is such an amazingly green city and so many of us appreciate the trees that surround us — but to enable people to understand that those trees can be part of our indoor spaces too will be amazing.

From an aesthetic perspective, many designers opt to work with rich woods like Walnut or Maple. What are your thoughts on using Ash as your primary material? Is it a challenge, does it change your process, or do you simply disagree and think Ash is amazing?

We too are guilty of using ‘rich’ woods such as walnut and maple, but we try to steer away from the norm in what we do — we use roasted species of wood, and try to use a variety of species but it’s hard — the market really drives people toward walnut right now — just like teak had its day, now seems to be the time for walnut to accent our interiors.  We love ash — we just finished 26 Outdoor tables for the House On Parliament in Cabbagetown. We had the ash roasted and it’s just as rich and elegant as walnut, if not more so. Part of what we do is to highlight the qualities of the woods we work with — we’ll do that with the salvaged ash too.

You’ve clearly established yourself as a force to be reckoned with in the Toronto design scene. What tips or advice would you give to other creators hoping to be a part of IIDEX Woodshop through the competition?

I’d say to really branch out — be creative and conceptual and try to realise your final functional design by still holding on to those original conceptual thoughts — that’s what will stand out. Too much design today is just a repeat/retake of existing items but if you can re-invent in a new and imaginative way, that’s what will help move you forward.

And finally, what’s something that you’re really into right now?

Right now I’m really into lighting — I always have been, having produced a set of lamps all the way back in Art School for my degree show, but with a couple of recent briefs to design lamps and lights, its sparked that excitement for me again. That coincides well with my new Lathe — which is work, play, and relaxation all in one!

Stay tuned for our next IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight: Michael Greenwood!